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Five! Four! Three! Two! One! DING DING DINGGGGGGG...
The washing machine goes off—my sheets are done. In a robe and slippers I stole from a fancy hotel, I pad across my empty apartment to retrieve them and start the dryer. It’s going to feel so good getting into bed with those warmed-up sheets on this cold December 31. The clock reads 9:30 p.m.
Hours earlier, I’d texted my friends: “I don’t think I’m coming out tonight. In fact, I have already donated my big NYE outfit to a charity that provides sequined minidresses to women in need.”
The replies came back instantly: “Fine with me!” “I love you and I support your choice to take some time for yourself, especially during the busy holiday season!” “We’ll miss you, but I’m not saying that to make you feel guilty or pressure you into coming out. It’s important to listen to your body and understand your own needs. Your absence will be noted but not resented, and we promise not to post too many photos on Instagram where we look happy without you!!”
After a day spent not waiting in line for upwards of 40 minutes at the liquor store, I am also not worrying about which bars have a lineup. Surge pricing on Uber is a distant memory from last year’s celebrations. Today, I’m drawing a bath. I pour lavender oil and Epsom salts into the tub, leaving the bathroom door open because my roommates have already left. My cat wanders in. “I appreciate the work you put into caring for me, and I view us as friends,” she says in English. I scratch her head and get in the bath, which is the perfect temperature.
I read in the bath for an hour or more; the pages of the book remain as unwrinkled as my fingers. Outside, I can faintly hear women complaining about their shoes and men yelling at their friends to just forget it, they’ve lost their coats and they wouldn’t be able to find them even if they could get back into the party. “Your Canada Goose is gone now, Kyle. It’s gone.”
I spend absolutely no time making small talk with drunk people, abiding the company of terrible men because they happen to be standing near the party’s snack table, or squatting above a urine-dappled toilet that turns out to be completely clogged. And I don’t have to listen to people making awkward jokes about kissing at midnight.
After the bath, my skin is impossibly smooth; my legs are still hairy, yet I don’t spend even a second worrying about whether or not that’s sexy. I apply a facial mask and drink some water, which comes out of the tap tasting like a spa—the city, in response to my frequent letters, recently replaced the last few inches of pipe with a hollowed-out cucumber.
I eat a light, healthy snack, which is satisfying and does not leave me craving sodium. I wash my mask off, and my eyebrows fill themselves in before my eyes, perfectly framing my dewy face.
When I walk into the bedroom, I see that my sheets have been moved from the dryer to the bed. My cat’s face pops up from a corner of the duvet. “I view you as a larger cat who has my utmost respect,” she says, winking as she tucks in the last corner of the top sheet. The bed is perfectly made.
As the countdown begins, my phone rings. “Hope I didn’t wake you,” says my best friend, Helen Mirren. “I just wanted to remind you to visit soon—oh, and Happy New Year.”